Difference Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia?  It’s a question often asked when a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia.  To put it in simple terms dementia is a symptom and Alzheimer’s disease is the cause of the symptom.

Family members and patients are often lead to believe that Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are not related.  When a person is diagnosed with dementia there is often a relief in the patient and in family members because the diagnosis is not Alzheimer’s Disease.

Then one must ask what exactly is the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?

Dementia is often used to describe a reduction in cognitive ability associated with advanced age.  Dementia is not a disease but rather a group of symptoms used to describe difficulties being experienced with memory, language, attention, problem solving, reasoning, planning, organization and judgement.

The most prominent symptom and most noticeable symptom described as dementia is memory difficulty.

Doctors use the term dementia when referring to the cognitive problems being experienced by a person.  It means there is something wrong with the persons brain but provides no information on the exact cause of the problem.

Dementia is not a disease but a clinical representation of a disease.  Dementia is used to describe symptoms and does not necessarily have to be symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.

It should be noted that most causes of dementia are not reversible and the most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dementia is not a diagnosis.  People will hear the term “Alzheimer’s related Dementia” or “Probable Alzheimer’s Disease” and consider it a diagnosis.

There is no definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and such a diagnosis can only be confirmed after death and upon an autopsy.  However, when a person shows symptoms such as dementia, it is very likely they are showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Thus, the difference between Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia lay within describing the symptom or when referring to the disease.

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  1. paula campagna says:

    Hi my mom die 2 moths ago. She was 73. She went into the hopoital walking and running from the nurses. After being restrained and sedated in the hopital for 5 weeks she could not walk, stand, eat or see. Due to the strong ant;phsycotic drugs and restraints. She was dead a week later. I have great guilt for bringing her there as we could not control her aggressive behaviour and wandering. I know have to live with idea that I let them kill her and think I should have brought her home and just kept chasing her. I really thought they would help her. I believe she would be alive today if I had done this. Anyone out there feeling the same. Thanks Paula, the daughter that let her mom down.

  2. From what I know, Alzheimer’s kills you anyway, eventually. When a person reaches a certain stage, then there’s not much you can do. In your situation, it sounds like you did the best possible thing. Don’t feel guilty about it, people like your Mom know they’re off and don’t like it. They don’t want to face getting worse, either. My mom was lucky enough to die at ninety three before her condition became really severe. but there is some suspicion among family memebers that maybe she was given something to make her condition worse. Anyone out there know if you can stimulate Alzheimer’s artificially?

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